Eric Mangini takes over a team that has sniffed a winning record seldom since the team returned in 1999. He has problems all over the field in all three areas of the team. We will discuss the D and ST tomorrow.
The line was a problem last year. LT Joe Thomas had a down year after being a rock in 07. Mangini and whoever plays QB will hold their collective breaths that Thomas says healthy because his backup, Rams et. al. castoff John St. Clair, is a turnstile and practitioner of the “look out” block. After making a look out block, the OL turns around to the QB and yells “look out!” LG Eric Steinbach is solid and RG prospect Floyd Womack has potential. The C position will be contested between last year starter Hank Fraley and new comer Alex Mack. If Mack and Womack can help the rest can protect the passer, the O may move the ball.
The QB position took the punishment for the lack of pass protection last year. The Browns were down to their 3 starter due to injury. This year the hope is that either Derek Anderson comes back to his probowl level of play or Brady Quinn turns potential into production. The second is more likely than the first. Anderson has the stronger arm and the better long ball but Quinn seems to have the inside track on the position.
The team signed Jamal Lewis to carry the ball again this year. The team has no full time starter insurance if he goes down. Fortunately for the fans of the Browns, Lewis seems durable. Backup Jerome Harrison is at best a 3rd down and change of pace back. Lawrence Vickers is versatile out of the backfield and is a capable lead blocker.
More than any other part of the O, this will determine how many points the O scores. All pro in 07 and top pass dropper in 08 Braylon Edwards is back. The team wanted to trade him but could not get the 1st and 3rd they were looking for. That is good because behind him there is not much experience. Rookie Bryan Robiskie and veteran FA Mike Furry will battle for the flanker position to work inside patterns. Unless last year 4th round pick Martin Rucker develops at TE, don’t expect much yardage from the position. The most likely starter at TE is vet Steve Heiden a fair blocker with good hands but no speed. Rucker or Robert Royal will be the backup.
One key question is will the Browns have an offensive personality. Mangenius said he wants to be “game plan specific” meaning he will run against teams weak in the line and pass on teams weak in the backfield. That is coach-speak for “I’m not sure if we can do either effectively.”
Winning in the AFC North is simple. Run the ball and stop the run. Last year, the Browns struggled at both and had a disastrous season. We will see if things change this year.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits https://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .